The 2021 season has been a tumultuous one for the Phillies. They came out of the gates red-hot, winning five of their first six games, only to find themselves dropping precipitously in the standings over the ensuing two months. With injuries to core contributors like Bryce Harper, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura wreaking havoc on their lineup, offense has been hard to come by. Luckily, the Phillies just added a secret weapon in Luke Williams.
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A third-round pick in the 2015 draft, Luke Williams was an unspectacular prospect through his first five seasons in the minor leagues. Early on he showed a troubling lack of power, putting up slugging percentages of .331, .301 and .264 in his first three campaigns. However, things began looking up in 2018 when he posted a .353 mark in High-A Clearwater, and his success carried over to Double-A Reading in 2019, where he hit at a .395 clip. Luke Williams really kicked things into gear late last year, when he joined the Adelaide Giants of the Australian Baseball League. Over 22 games with the Giants, Williams proved himself to be a very valuable contributor to a ballclub, hitting .292 over 77 plate appearances, while providing lockdown defense all over the diamond.
The Phillies took note of his success Down Under, as Williams earned himself a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to begin the 2021 season. His .904 OPS over 82 plate appearances for the Iron Pigs was enough to land him a spot on Team USA’s roster for the 2021 Americas Olympic Qualifying Event. Luke Williams’ torrid start to 2021 carried over into his time with the national team, as he hit .444 over 18 at bats, collecting a double, triple, home run and six RBI. His fantastic play was one of the key factors in Team USA sweeping all five of its contests, and earning a spot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.
To cap off his incredible summer, Luke Williams was able to make his dreams come true on Tuesday, as he made his major league debut against the Atlanta Braves. Proving to be every bit the scrappy grinder that manager Joe Girardi loves, his first big league knock came on a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line. Williams would experience even more euphoria on Wednesday night, as he came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
With Andrew McCutchen on first and the Phillies down 1-0, the stage was set for Luke Williams to be the hero Phillies fans so desperately need. He didn’t squander his chance, as he quickly deposited a ball into the left field seats to walk it off over a division rival. While the Phillies have experienced a tremendous amount of adversity lately, Williams looks to be the jolt that this team needs. His tremendous versatility is a huge asset off the bench, and his underdog story is exactly the type of yarn that this city loves to spin. If the Phillies have any chance of making the postseason, there’s no doubt that Luke Williams could play an important role.